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  • jrblackburnsmith

Words Fail Me

Image: words I did not write

As a writer, I do not believe in writer's block. Even with this blog, which is for me the hardest type of writing that I do (there is a forced deadline without an assigned topic - literally, just make something up) I do not accept that when I struggle, I'm suffering from writer's block. If I believe that writing is a practice, which I do, and that all writing is a process of rewriting, which I also do (even when I don't want to) then writer's block cannot really exist.

I do believe, and frequently experience, failures in imagination. These are moments where I don't see the path forward. (I experience them most frequently while playing Scrabble.) I haven't imagined what comes next, or how to solve a problem a character has created for themselves.

(Writer's Note: I take no responsibility for the actions of my characters. Like the rest of us, they have free will and frequently do very stupid things. Sometimes they end up on a narrow mountain trail with a thousand-foot fall on one side, a grizzly bear blocking the trail ahead and a den of rattlesnakes sunning themselves on the path behind them. I have no idea how they got there, and they have no idea how they are getting out of this mess they're in. I also end sentences with prepositions, which violates every rule of 7th grade Language Arts you were ever taught. Writers are allowed to do that.)

The point is that I don't need to know where things are going. I don't need to see to the end of the book, or the chapter, or even this paragraph. I may need to find the next 30 words, and that is something I can always do. That next sentence may be terrible, but that doesn't matter; I already know I am going to rewrite them later as I work through my practice of writing. Those 30 words might also be perfect, however, and move the story forward in ways I had not yet imagined.

When I was in undergrad at Ohio State, I took a creative writing class (as a typical 18 year old man, I wasn't paying attention and signed up for the poetry class, rather than fiction) taught by Gordon Grigsby. He was tough and my poetry was not making the grade. My writing career might have ended in that class, except for one poem I wrote, among dozens of others:

I Was Cold and Tired, and I Wanted to Go Home

Until I got my first rabbit.

That poem, all 17 words of it, earned my collection an A. So if you are fighting a failure of imagination, don't sweat it, just keep writing. Your words don't have to be good, they simply have to let you make them better.

Love: a story of grief and desire is now available as an audiobook! Available on amazon, and wherever audiobooks are sold.

Win a free Kindle edition of Love: a novel of grief and desire: I work with Reader's Favorite on the Kindle book giveaway. If you go to you can sign up for the monthly giveaway. You can scroll through the list of giveaways (over 500 each month) or sort the list by title or author to find Love: a novel of grief and desire and put your name in for this month's drawing. Good luck!

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